Virtuoso Life May 2018 Why I Travel: Anne Toal

Why I Travel: Anne Toal

Paul Brisson and Anne Toal exploring the Amazon.
Paul Brisson and Anne Toal exploring the Amazon.
Photo by Anne Toal.
Natural wonders and great golf greens keep Anne Toal and Paul Brisson on the go.

After a canceled flight on their honeymoon in Greece 32 years ago, Anne Toal and Paul Brisson of Ontario, Canada, were stranded in Corfu and missed boarding their cruise in Athens. They scrambled to change plans and meet up with it in Crete. Their ship eventually came in, Anne explains, but it reinforced with these practical- minded travelers – they both spent their careers as actuaries – the need to avert misadventure by planning with an experienced and reputable travel advisor. Both now 61 and retired, they explore prodigiously, with nary a hiccup, thanks to Ottawa-based Virtuoso advisor Sheila Gallant-Halloran.
 
Our philosophy in travel is to always go with a plan, but expect the unexpected. Have patience, take deep breaths, and leave your type A personality at home.
 
And take a map. Yes, we live in a world with GPS and Google. But you go off the beaten path, you get lost on a country road – you might lose service.
 
Nature is what interests us. Seeing different types of animals and birds and landscapes, but also the world’s great golf courses.

A safari favorite, Botswana.
A safari favorite, Botswana.
Photo by Anne Toal
For wildlife, Botswana is definitely the place. The birds and the elephants, the leopards and the lions. Then again, the penguins in Antarctica are pretty amazing.
 
We played Pebble Beach on an absolutely perfect day. On a round at Tralee in Ireland, the wind was blowing so hard, we thought we’d blow off the cliffs. I was lucky enough to have a hole in one at Desert Willow in Palm Desert.
 
Generally, we give Sheila a list of places we want to get to. From there, she starts sending ideas, articles, side trips we might not know about. She picks up on our interests and then fills in the blanks with her expertise.
What we love about cruising with Lindblad Expeditions is its small groups. You’re on a ship with maybe 40 to 150 people rather than thousands, the guides are excellent, and, depending on the destination, there are opportunities to hike, kayak, snorkel, and learn photography tips from National Geographic experts. And it’s casual – Paul isn’t into wearing black tie for dinner.
 
Wherever we go, we bring home a little cat. We have a little green guy from Zambia made out of malachite, and a silvery-black one from China. In Portugal, we found one made of brown pottery.
 
We used to lug big, heavy binoculars. Now we take the Nikon Travelite. They’re powerful, waterproof, and fit in a jacket pocket.
A strangler fig overtakes a temple at Angkor Wat.
A strangler fig overtakes a temple at Angkor Wat.
Photo by Anne Toal

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